Drua Coach Contenders

Wishful thinking in the sense that Robertson is after the All Blacks head coach’s job and the not-so-good start by Ian Foster last season, has kept ‘The Razor’s’ hopes high.
14 May 2021 15:03
Drua Coach Contenders
Joe Schmidt, Simon Raiwalui and Jason Ryan.

The Fijian Drua head coach for the 2022 Super Rugby competition is most likely to come from overseas.

This was based on the requirements set by the Fiji Rugby Union.

This highly qualified coach is faced with the mammoth task of moulding the Drua into a competitive outfit to take on the five New Zealand, five Australian franchise teams along with the Moana Pasifika side.

According to an advert, the FRU seeks to engage a coach with more than five years of coaching experience at the highest level.

FRU is looking for candidates who have “accumulated over five years of coaching at either International, Super Rugby, English Premiership, Pro 14, Top 14 or Top League level,” it stated.

The ad also indicated that the coach has to “be current, having coached in the international level for the last two years”.

These have ruled out all our local coaches who may have been eyeing for the job.

The only one in the country who could meet that criteria is FRU’s general manager high performance, Simon Raiwalui.

Raiwalui, a former Flying Fijians captain, had been the head coach for top French club Racing 92 in 2012.

He later joined Stade Francais where he coached them to win the Bouclier de Brennus (French domestic competition) in 2015.

The Tubou, Lakeba in Lau native, was the Australian Wallabies forwards coach to the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan.

FRU chief executive officer O’Connor has confirmed receiving overwhelming interests from international candidates.

“Even before it was advertised, the applicants we’ve received are from throughout the world, people who’ve coached professional clubs in UK and France and other coaches
who have coached national teams,” he said.

While high profile coaching interest is a good indication of the demand for the Drua, there had been some wishful thinking of getting Crusaders coach Scott Robertson in, whose contract expires this year.

Wishful, thinking in the sense that Robertson is after the All Blacks head coach’s job and the not-so-good start by Ian Foster last season, had kept ‘The Razor’s’ hopes high.

During the official announcement of the Drua’s inclusion to the Super Rugby, O’Connor had indicated what could be a giveaway that the head coach must work closely with
Flying Fijians head coach, Vern Cotter.

Who knows this could be the opening for Crusaders forwards coach, Jason Ryan to step up to head coach.

Ryan, was also the Flying Fijians forwards coach to the Autumn Nations Cup last November.

Flying Fijians attack coach and former Waratahs coach Daryl Gibson is out of the running as he recently signed up to become Bay of Plenty’s head coach.

But who knows, this could see the return of former Ireland coach, Joe Schmidt, who happened to be a close pal of Cotter.

Schmidt, a New Zealander, had coached Ireland to the top of the World Rugby rankings

He coached Ireland from 2013 to 2019.

Under his leadership, Ireland won the Six Nations Championships three times and the Grand Slam in 2018.

Schmidt first worked with Cotter while in Auckland.

In 2007, they teamed up again in France where Schmidt was Cotter’s assistant coach.

They guided Clermont to win the Top 14 title in 2010 after being runners-up in 2008 and 2009.

Schmidt returned with his family to New Zealand in 2020 for the best interest of his youngest son Luke, who was struggling with his epilepsy under the COVID-19 lockdowns restrictions imposed by the Irish Government.

But as of now, we should not count out former Wallabies coach Michael Cheika, who recently turned down the Waratahs offer.

And on top of that, Fiji has been one of his favourite holiday destinations.

The countdown has started but anything can happen, as interested coaches still have time to email their applications to Rugby House before Saturday’s 5pm deadline.

Edited by Leone Cabenatabua


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